Activist Alan Bounville will soon travel from his New York City home to give a talk at Rollins College.
It's not a long trip, a few hours by plane.
That's nothing for Bounville. The former Orlando resident spent two years walking more than 6,000 miles across the United States to raise awareness of issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and equality.
Bounville's talk is part of a series of events surrounding "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later," the season-opening play later this month at Rollins College's Annie Russell Theatre. Thomas Ouellette will direct the Rollins production.
"People are touched by plays like this," Bounville said. "They think about what they can do to stop violence."
"The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later" is a sequel to 1998's "The Laramie Project," a look at how the torture and murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Laramie, Wyo., affected his community. To create the plays, Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project conducted hundreds of interviews — some right after the killing, others after a decade had passed.
In 2009, Shepard's name was attached to the law that expanded federal hate-crime laws to include gender and sexual orientation. A key contention of the prosecution during his killers' trial was that Shepard was targeted because he was gay.
Bounville visited Laramie on his cross-country walk, which began in 2011 and concluded this February. As he did in other cities where gay or transgendered people met with violence, he participated in a candlelight vigil.
"To see and be in that place creates a really spiritual kind of experience," said Bounville, 36, who left Orlando in 2009. "You can't really put that feeling into words."
He was heartened by the number of straight participants in the vigil and a workshop he led at the University of Laramie. "That response was incredibly powerful," he said. "It was experiences like that that really kept me going."
Bounville, a graduate of New York University's Educational Theatre program, presented one-man shows and workshops along his route. Orlando theatergoers might recall his show "Chained to Freedom," which he performed at the 2010 Fringe Festival. While in Winter Park, he will lead a social-activism workshop for Rollins students.
Bounville also will give a public program on his "Into the Light" walk, motivation and activism.
And Rollins faculty will present a staged reading of the original "Laramie Project" this Sunday, as a precursor to the fully staged sequel, which opens Sept. 27.
Both plays remain vitally important, Bounville says, especially in light of ongoing political battles over such issues as workplace rights and marriage equality.
"We need to learn from history," he says. "We need to learn from our mistakes."
'The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later'
• When: 8 p.m. Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 2-4; 4 p.m. Sept. 29; 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 5
• Where: Annie Russell Theatre, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park
• Tickets: $10-$25
• Call: 407-646-2145
Free public events
• Sunday, Sept. 15: Rollins faculty present a staged reading of the original "Laramie Project," the prequel to this play, at the Fred Stone Theatre on the Rollins campus. 4 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 27: Opening-night reception in the campus's Bush Atrium, immediately following the performance of "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later."
• Saturday, Sept. 28: Free public lecture with activist Alan Bounville, who will discuss his "Into the Light" walk across the country in support of gender and sexual-orientation equality. At the Annie Russell Theatre, 4 p.m.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun